(Below is Day 3 task of 2015 October Platform Challenge, initiated by Robert Lee Brewer, Senior Content Editor at Writer’s Digest. Thank you Mr. Brewer. This is a working page and I will come back to edit it)
“I’m having a tough time and no one is telling me my good points,” said my European friend, who I will call Karen.
We Skyped three times since I moved to the US seven weeks ago. I resigned from my job and came here because of personal reasons. Karen and I met in a meditation group in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate. When we met my energy was very low, emotionally I was not in a good place and I started having health issues despite living a healthy lifestyle. I discussed my concerns that arose due to my disagreement with the teachings of the meditation group. As a result of our discussions I started looking at my behavioral and emotional patterns and decided I needed to do something to come out of that state. Just then my daughter recommended I read The Magic by Rhonda Byrne. My curiosity kicked in and I started the book. This meant creating new patterns in my existing ones and it was tough to begin with but my persistence paid off; my energy changed, my emotional and physical health improved and my work transferred me to another branch where I was getting support from the Director all the way to the cleaning staff of the company. Thank you Rhonda.
During one of the meetings Karen looked exhausted. Her eyelids were drooped, shoulders hunched forward and she sounded despondent when I inquired about her job. She said, “My company will move back to Europe in six months.”
Besides volunteering with an organization she was also working as an auditor and jobs are extremely competitive in oil rich Arabia/Persian Gulf countries where even the housekeeping staff in four-star hotels may need Bachelor’s degree. Perks like children school fee, housing and transportation allowance are added to the high basic salaries of foreign employees in the UAE. So being an auditor meant she must be really good at it.
I contributed her dreariness to the situation and wanted to motivate her. I gave her an example when I used to work part-time with the French company Moulinex. The company moved out of Bahrain to the UAE and I was offered the same position and same part-time job. The offer stroked my ego but I couldn’t go my children were little. I was happy and even my Manager said to me that he had never seen anyone happy for losing a job. I was happy because I thought I would find another opportunity and learn new skills so it was a win-win situation. I found good jobs shortly afterwards.
I pointed out to Karen that because of being married she could relax for a few months and then look for another job.
After a few months Karen’s condition had deteriorated. She was angry with her company and said that instead of caring about its employees the company was thinking only about itself. Now she will get a job only if the company is socially responsible and is involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. I told her that companies have to think about their survival and then their employees. Somehow Karen couldn’t grasp the idea. In addition to anger I picked feelings of rejection and not valued.
Afterwards we Skyped a few times and I explained to her the company’s position from a business point of view but Karen was not convinced. So, I suggested The Magic to her and told her to start writing ten good things about the company whenever she got negative feelings; something I learned from the book.
Six months later Karen was still looking for her ‘ideal’ company. Additionally she got frustrated with the organization she volunteered with as a photographer, because she felt used and unappreciated. I again suggested writing a list of ten things about the organization. I asked her to name three good things about the organization and we came up with seven. After Skype conversation she always told me how she felt uplifted after talking to me. I asked myself if I was talking to Karen because her compliments stroked ego or there was some other payback. I thought I didn’t mind spending my time talking to Karen because besides her, other people helped me when I was down so I was paying it forward. Somehow I wasn’t convinced.
A couple of months before leaving Abu Dhabi I gifted her a Reiki session. I had completed Level II training and needed to do certain numbers of Reiki sessions on people before getting the certificate. During her visit Karen complained about lack of money and then told me that she was going to her yearly retreat in Europe. I told her people would give and arm and a leg to be in her situation so she should enjoy the retreat and take plenty of photographs, something she is good at.
In the second Skype meeting after I moved to the US she mentioned that she spent seven weeks in Europe. After discussing various topics we made a list of tasks each of us would do before the next meeting. Her list was: writing the gratitude list about the organization where she volunteered, apply for the job she saw on the Internet, contact the woman who told Karen to contact her after Karen discussed her background, and create a portfolio of her photographs. She was to put ten photographs in five categories, people, landscape, food, functions and another of her own choice. I suggested becoming a wedding photographer because Emiratis, the UAE nationals, host separate wedding functions for men and women.
I was to write an essay for a competition, find out different publications in the city where I now reside. Granted my list was shorter but then my regular job is from seven to half past three.
So, when we met after ten days and I told her that I contacted one local publication and the editor asked me to send my writing samples, perhaps the link I sent her didn’t work. Instead of writing the essay I submitted an article titled “A Humble Solution for Hajj Stampede,” to Op-ed page of The New York Times along with a cover letter. I wrote a short performance for an online business.
Karen said that she had applied for one job with a company that she likes even though they don’t have a vacancy. She had started searching jobs on the Internet and was thinking of sending applications to the companies of her liking even if they didn’t have a vacancy. She wanted to volunteer for a day or two and she didn’t mind if they pay her little or nothing. She added that she wanted to work for a non-profit. I told her it was great but what about her tasks that she had agreed to do last time we met. She mentioned how Maya attacked her and she had to spend two days dealing with it. Maya represent Satan in the teachings of our meditation group’s philosophy.
Then Karen mentioned that she worked with two wedding photographers a while back and when she wanted to show them landscape photos they said… So she doesn’t want to work as a photographer. Her bitterness about her company and the organization she volunteered with, surfaced. I said to her, “I am going to kick your behind and tell you that since the loss of your job about two years ago you didn’t make an effort to get a job. You complain about not having money and then spend seven weeks in Europe. You are bitter about previous volunteer work and now you want to volunteer again so that you can complain again. You haven’t organized your photographs and now you are saying they are organized. You haven’t written the gratitude list. You are being a victim and feeling good about it because you are comfortable where you are and don’t want to change. Before you wanted to work for a company with CSR program and now you want to work for non-profit. Non-profits work the same way as for-profit because I have worked for both. They use different terminology. Instead of profit they say revenue. After all they have to exist as well, for which they have to earn money; be it profit or revenues. You just don’t want to work. You are your own Maya. Nothing from the outside attacks us. We attack ourselves from within.”
Victimhood is like ice cream, my most favorite food growing up, i.e., until I read an article in Time magazine in the 70’s. At the time I was living in Uganda. According to the article the mayor of New York City had gained over a hundred pounds because for a year he ate ice cream after every dinner. We feel good when we are feeling victim and get others’ sympathies but then after a while it weaves miles and miles long web of deceit around our emotion of feeling sorry for ourselves.
That’s when Karen said, “I’m having a tough time and no one is telling me my good things.”
I replied that even during the conversation I said, “Photography is your forte like writing is mine. It means I am praising you and telling you this is a good thing. We have had this conversation so many times. It’s like a balloon. The balloon fills with air because of our positive talk but soon the air goes out. We all have to do things. Of course, I also have down days but I know that I have to do something about it. But since coming to the US seven weeks ago I wrote a proposal and budget for a television program, submitted an essay and a short story in a competition. Granted that I took the short story from my memoir but I had to work on that, I have written two business reports. This is besides my day job.”
We agreed to Skype after a week and her task is organize photo, apply for a vacancy and call the woman and I had suggested a way to contact her when Karen said she met the women a year ago.
My tasks are to write the essay for a competition, write a business report and follow-up with the local publication, which may require interview business owner. The next day Karen wrote this, “would you be so kind and write 3 apparent patterns that you see me doing?”
I wrote back, “Thank you for listening to me and being open to change. Sometimes I wish I had someone telling me what I tell you. Oh, by the time we finished it was almost 11 so went to bed late. Had difficulty getting up this morning. Was exhausted. Ok, I guess I will be kind to give you a suggestion rather than write 3 patterns. If I wrote then it wouldn’t be convincing to your core. So my suggestion is here:
- Sit down with a pen and a paper. Make coffee and give yourself an hour.
- Write down the topics we talked about.
- Write down what I said about anything related to your skills and jobs
- Then write down what you told me.
- In front of 4 write down what you felt when you were telling me.
- How are answers in 5 serving you? How are things you tell me are serving you?
- Write down how long have you been out of job.
- What have you done to get a job?
- What do you say to myself when either you think of getting a job, when someone else talks to you about getting a job or applying for a job? (Be VERY HONEST). No deception
- What excuses have you been making?
- Why are you making these excuses?
I think this is a lot of work but you have to do. Not me. It’s about you. Then you will find out 3 patterns and I would be honored if you share them with me not the next week, because we have to do assignments. Thank you and have a blessed day.
I once again asked myself why do I want to help Karen? What’s in it for me? A little birdie told me that perhaps Karen lets me see my patterns. Perhaps she shows me how far I have come. Though I must say this: Thank God I don’t have any patterns. If I did I would know, wouldn’t I!
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